4 groups of people to watch to prevent Workplace Violence

It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason

Before we can lessen the risk or attempt to prevent any incidents of workplace violence (WPV) we must understand where the threat comes from. There are four groups of people which WPV mainly originates from;

  • Violence as a result of another crime

Roughly 79% – 85% of all WPV falls into this category. And it really depends on where you get your statistics from as to which number is correct. And only the security professional, or a consultant, within your organization can help to prevent these kinds of incidents such as injurious or fatal robberies and etc.

  • Current or ex-employees

The most commonly reported kind of WPV by the media is the employee, or ex, doing harm within the business. Usually the violence is caused by the perceived negative treatment by supervisors or co-workers. And keep in mind whatever they perceive is going to be their reality, it doesn’t matter what the real situation is…or was.

Two things that will help your HR department and management avoid any wrongful disciplinary action or dismissal litigation are training your supervisors on recognizing warning signs and the most effective and,  efficient ways of confronting the employee before placing it on their (permanent) records. Experts within the community, non-profit organizations, or consultants can come in and train your supervisors on what to look for, all 22 warning signs.

Another aspect of an employee committing violence within your business is the growing concern of suicide within the business. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed more than 260 suicides on business properties, which also includes schools (Denton, TX. January 2018). Employees, or ex or even others, come back into the building for innumerable reasons to commit suicide…providing as much trauma as a regular WPV incident.

  • Significant others/domestic violence

While this is one that is not as well-known and carefully avoided, it is getting more attention. Approximately 48% of WPV incidents begin as domestic violence/stalking of their significant other. Domestic violence doesn’t only relate to physical violence but can also be mental stress, and emotional abuse.

Usually the significant other becomes so enraged over their spouse having an perceived affair or them working outside the house or some other perceived, see how that word keeps creeping into the equation, problem that is magnified or has no basis They can become so enraged, at the perception, that They will come to the workplace to physically or verbally abuse their spouse. Even to the point of bringing a weapon and killing their spouse and anyone else that attempts to shield the victim.

The victim in this case may have been advised by friends, coworkers, or human resources that they need to get out of their abusive relationship, referred to a shelter, or employee assistance program. The abusive spouse then feels threatened that these people are trying to take their property away from them.  It can also result from bitter divorces involving child custody.

What can be done to prevent domestic violence spilling over into your workplace? A lot of this depends on ensuring your policies & procedures are regularly updated, a review at least once a year preferably more often, and that the employees trust their management to talk to them. If an employee doesn’t trust management… If they confide in their supervisor that they are afraid of their significant other possibly coming to the job site it is their responsibility to inform managers or security. If they do come to the worksite then call security or the police immediately. If a weapon is seen the need to call 911 is paramount.

  • Customers

Yet another group that is not often found in the media.  But why would a customer turn to violence against you? Generally it is for some of the same reasons an employee or current employee turns to violence. They perceive, there’s that word again, they receive disparate treatment and the company is treating them shabbily, true or not.

All disgruntled individuals who come back into your business need to be treated differently even as far as outside the normal policies & procedures. The customer who comes into your business in a rage, yelling and screaming, demanding their money back or to see the manager is completely different than the one who comes back politely and requests the same thing; therefore it is preferable the dissatisfied customer is dealt with away from others.


Your entire company needs to know the value and power of documentation. It is one of those vitally necessary things to prove in a court of law that you followed every possible recourse and that the employee/customer/significant other was destined for termination or arrest. All the fights, arguments, and etc. must be documented every time, including the derogatory comments, swearing, & otherwise distasteful words. And these words MUST be spelled out in full to prevent any lawyer from saying you didn’t get it right with the ***.

Are these the only people that are a potential threat to you and the company? Of course not. There are numerous others and of course your human resources and security departments or a consultant with specialized training can show you them. But no matter what you do you must TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN your employees, supervisors, managers, & C-suite on all of these. And this means ALL departments including HR & security, officers included, contract or proprietary.

“If you don’t ride the waves of change, you’ll find yourself beneath them”

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his upcoming website http://www.robertdsollars.com, or twitter@robertsollars2.

                          I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear  

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